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Old 11-03-2017, 11:20 AM
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Build: 1989 Chevy Caprice 9c1 (350 TBI)

I just purchased my first car ever, and made it one that's been a dream car since I was a kid. I bought a 1989 Caprice 9c1 with the 350 TBI engine. I don't have very much knowledge about this thing or how the TBI works, but my plan is to slowly build it out to be a fun cruiser (and burnout machine). I'm looking for any and all advice on what to do with this, starting with some basics then working myself up into the more advanced things I can do.

The first thing I need to do is get some rust taken care of (anyone know a trustworthy body shop in update NY?) so it doesn't fall apart on me. Next on the list will be new electrical.

I've heard that there's no benefit to "upgrading" the electrical on these 350 TBI motors, so I was going to just go with OE stuff from RockAuto. Anyone have any knowledge on this?

Hope to keep this thread going with updates as the build plods along, and appreciate everyone's help!

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Old 11-04-2017, 06:28 AM
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The 350 TBI is no race engine, but it is very torquey and very pleasant to use. It can be improved a bit, read this, Harris Performance, INC | GM Fuel injection for the average guy, go to their recommendation page, it can help you think and se how you can improve your engine a bit.
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Old 11-04-2017, 06:41 AM
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I put a '91 9C1 TBI 350/700R4 combo in my dad's '87 S-10 Blazer. No barn stormer, but it ran very well, plenty of torque. Do you have any pics?
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:59 AM
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This is not an easy engine to build up it doesn't take long to run against the limit of the self-learn capabilities of the computer. The Police LO5 is a better place to start than the truck version as it comes with bit more cam and is a roller instead of flat tappet. The TBI comes with higher capacity injectors but the air flow through the throttles is the same at about 440 CFM. The heads are the same probably the same as the 191,s on the higher compression trucks, but check the casting number under the rocker cover as some of these ran the iron L98 head which is an iron version of the Z28 head from the mid 1980's to early 1990's. This is a decent head on par performance wise with the performance heads of the 1960's to 1972. They are not as good as the L31 Vortec of 1996 and up and it's many aftermarket clones but are pretty decent.

Gotta take care of the dog will be back later.
Bogie
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Old 11-05-2017, 05:24 AM
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The only self leaning capability of the 87-95 TBI is that it leans its part throttle Closed loop fueling via the O2 sensor. There are no WOT self leaning capabilities of any OEM injection system including the CFI, TPI, TBI, 92-95 CPI, 96-2002 CSFI etc etc

peace
Hog
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Old 11-05-2017, 07:20 AM
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Thanks for all the help so far, guys! A couple of questions popped up from what you guys have written.

First, @Bogies - I haven't gotten the courage to tear into the engine yet, but I'll get on it in a bit to look for the head casting number. If they aren't the L98 head (which I believe is #14101083?), would it make sense to but some 305 TBI heads to increase compression? I've been talking to a guy who is willing to sell me a set of either #14022601 or #14014416 completely rebuilt for under $200. Through research on the rest of hotrodders, I've seen that results can be mixed: higher compression but less flow overall.

@Hogg - Where is the O2 sensor located in it's stock position? I'm worried because I threw on a K&N open air element filter to help it breath a bit better. However, the filter I put on doesn't have a hole for the flame arrestor or another wire that I unplugged from the underside of the stock air assembly. How important are the flame arrestor and that wire, was that the O2 sensor?

A pic of the beast is attached!

Will
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Old 11-05-2017, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatingWhileRunning View Post
Thanks for all the help so far, guys! A couple of questions popped up from what you guys have written.

First, @Bogies - I haven't gotten the courage to tear into the engine yet, but I'll get on it in a bit to look for the head casting number. If they aren't the L98 head (which I believe is #14101083?), would it make sense to but some 305 TBI heads to increase compression? I've been talking to a guy who is willing to sell me a set of either #14022601 or #14014416 completely rebuilt for under $200. Through research on the rest of hotrodders, I've seen that results can be mixed: higher compression but less flow overall.

@Hogg - Where is the O2 sensor located in it's stock position? I'm worried because I threw on a K&N open air element filter to help it breath a bit better. However, the filter I put on doesn't have a hole for the flame arrestor or another wire that I unplugged from the underside of the stock air assembly. How important are the flame arrestor and that wire, was that the O2 sensor?

A pic of the beast is attached!

Will
The 305 is a detonation prone head with small valves and ports, they bring more problems to a 350 than they solve. Besides the small ports and valves will not allow the 350 to rev any better if as well as the Swirl Ports if that is what is on there. It costs a lot of money to make a good 305 head run with a poor 350 head when they are put on a 350. Save your money till you can afford a set of L31 type Vortecs either GM which requires a unique bolt pattern intake or a decent set of aftermarket heads that use both the L31 or the pre 1986 pattern. Don't be fooled into 305 heads or porting Swirl Ports, the effort to correct their deficiencies is time and money consuming that produces a crack prone 305 head ; as the porting makes the walls to thin to live through repeated heating and cooling cycles; and a still too small flowing version of the LO5 head because you can't remove enough of the swirl vane without also finding yourself on the wet side of the pocket wall.

The use of a K&N filter is a waste of money at this point. The higher air flow is only of use when the engine demands more air than a stock filter can provide, that only happens at high RPM's getting into the 5000 RPM zone. The LO5 has no means of revving that high without a ton of modifications first which would include but not limited to a bigger throttle body with bigger capacity injectors, much, much more cam, L98 heads at a minimum, better still L31 heads or aftermarket equivalents, big headers at least 1-5/8th inside diameter long tubes to 3 inch collectors with a 2.5 inch set of dual pipes to a pair of high flow mufflers and a major reprogram of the computer. Another way is to eliminate the TBI and computer for a carb and conventional distributor.

About now you should be getting the feeling that the engine in these cop cars leaves a lot to be desired in terms of performance as hot rodders think of it. The post 2000 cop cars are a different story but the mid 1970 through 1990's leave a lot to be desired under the hood.

Bogie
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Old 11-06-2017, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatingWhileRunning View Post
Thanks for all the help so far, guys! A couple of questions popped up from what you guys have written.

First, @Bogies - I haven't gotten the courage to tear into the engine yet, but I'll get on it in a bit to look for the head casting number. If they aren't the L98 head (which I believe is #14101083?), would it make sense to but some 305 TBI heads to increase compression? I've been talking to a guy who is willing to sell me a set of either #14022601 or #14014416 completely rebuilt for under $200. Through research on the rest of hotrodders, I've seen that results can be mixed: higher compression but less flow overall.

@Hogg - Where is the O2 sensor located in it's stock position? I'm worried because I threw on a K&N open air element filter to help it breath a bit better. However, the filter I put on doesn't have a hole for the flame arrestor or another wire that I unplugged from the underside of the stock air assembly. How important are the flame arrestor and that wire, was that the O2 sensor?

A pic of the beast is attached!

Will
The 89 305 TBI/200r4 car I had used a single O2 sensor in the drivers side exhaust manifold.
Not sure what that wire was that you are talking about. Your air filter should be fine.

The 1994-1996 iron head LT1 9C1 cars were some of the most desired of the cop cars. So much so, some Sherrif departments rebuilt the drive trains and put them back into service rather than use the Ford Crown Vic.

peace
Hog
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Old 11-06-2017, 07:32 AM
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@Bogie - Thanks for the good information, as always. My thought with this car/engine was that it was going to be a good "starting point" to learn more about hot rodding in general (I've actually never owned a car before). It seems I didn't really know what I was getting myself into with a TBI. That being said, I might just fix the "easy" things with the engine (exhaust, distributor, underbody rust) and if there are small performance gains with that, awesome.

It sounds like if the ultimate goal from the car is performance, the TBI has to go completely. How much of the car is run via the computer and how much would break if I tried to remove to TB? For example, if I wanted to swap in heads, intake, distributor, fuel pump, and throw on a carb, would the computer block the car's function somehow? I'm not saying I'm going to do this, but it sounds like an interesting idea. Would swapping out for a carb create a whole other host of unforeseen issues? (Again, my knowledge is super limited on this thing, I'm just learning.
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Old 11-06-2017, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatingWhileRunning View Post
@Bogie - Thanks for the good information, as always. My thought with this car/engine was that it was going to be a good "starting point" to learn more about hot rodding in general (I've actually never owned a car before). It seems I didn't really know what I was getting myself into with a TBI. That being said, I might just fix the "easy" things with the engine (exhaust, distributor, underbody rust) and if there are small performance gains with that, awesome.

It sounds like if the ultimate goal from the car is performance, the TBI has to go completely. How much of the car is run via the computer and how much would break if I tried to remove to TB? For example, if I wanted to swap in heads, intake, distributor, fuel pump, and throw on a carb, would the computer block the car's function somehow? I'm not saying I'm going to do this, but it sounds like an interesting idea. Would swapping out for a carb create a whole other host of unforeseen issues? (Again, my knowledge is super limited on this thing, I'm just learning.
You're in luck with a 91 as the transmission will be the 700R4 which is not computer controlled. This makes changing the TBI to either improve or replace it a lot simpler. Once the 4L60E shows up with the 1992 models the systems integration level dramatically increases which makes doing modifications a lot harder.

If you have to suffer through vehicle inspections and SMOG checks doing things is also more limited, something to be said for living in places where that isn't necessary or limited in scope.

The block is probably a roller cam the cop car timing is intake/exhaust 180/194 @ .050 inch duration with .382/.401 inch lift with 1.5 rockers, with an Lobe Separation Angle (LSA) of 109 degrees. The cop car computer uses a unique chip which is agreeable to a bigger cam, 1.6 ratio rockers, better heads, and header type to dual exhausts. So you can mess around with this without getting into chip programming.

GM and the aftermarket have a lot of roller cams that will punch the power up quite a bit. The limit with EFI is how many pounds of fuel the injectors can deliver at max function. This is also constrained by the ratio of on to off time that is necessary to prevent overheating the electrical coils inside the injectors, this limit is about 80% on time to 20% off. An engine assuming average efficiency needs about .5 pound of fuel per horsepower per hour. Since injectors are rated in fuel delivered in pounds per hour you can calculate about how far you can push the engine power wise. In your case assume that each of the two injectors can deliver 64 pounds of fuel per hour so at half a horsepower per pound per hour each injector could support 128 horsepower which would limit the engine's output to 256 horsepower. The actual delivery of fuel to the profiles of engine power loading is more complicated that this single point so don't go crazy thinking all kinds of stuff can be done and will simply run, it ain't that easy. But this math can be used to get a good idea of how far the system can be pushed at maximum.

GM cams that can work with this:

- The 1995-97 LT1 5.7 specs are 201/208 .447"/.459" (p/n 12551705) with an LSA of 117. The wider 117 degree LSA makes this cam pretty darn stable with TBI and Speed Density TPI when used with 1.5 rockers, and often will accept a 1.6 rocker without the pain of a new chip compared to the otherwise similar LT4 cam.


- The 1987 TPI 350 roller cam has specs of 202/206 .403"/.415" lift on 115 LSA (p/n 14093643). This cam with its lower lift is more receptive to 1.6 rockers without having needing a custom chip.



- - The LT4 cam from a production 1996 LT4 Corvette (p/n 12551142) has specs of 203/210 duration at 0.050" and lift of .446"/.450" with 1.5:1 rockers or the .476"/.480" with 1.6:1 rockers that the LT4 engine uses this is on a 115 LSA. This cam can be run on TBI V8's but may require ECM tuning, however, this cam with the greater 115 degrees of LSA holds a high and stable idle vacuum which TBI likes.








_ Vortec 96-2002 trucks 305 and 350 use the same cam PN 10231264. The full size B and D body L98 350's and L99 4.3 Liter V8's use the same cam. This cam times at .050 inch lift at 191/196 degrees with lift at the valve using a 1.5 ratio rocker of 0.414"/.428" on a 111 LSA.


So these are some examples of cam that will perk the TBI engine up and run pretty will with the factory tune in the computer.


Bogie



















new chip compared to the otherwise similar LT4 cam.
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Old 11-06-2017, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by BogiesAnnex1 View Post

_ Vortec 96-2002 trucks 305 and 350 use the same cam PN 10231264. The full size B and D body L98 350's and L99 4.3 Liter V8's use the same cam. This cam times at .050 inch lift at 191/196 degrees with lift at the valve using a 1.5 ratio rocker of 0.414"/.428" on a 111 LSA.
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.
Excellent info Bogie, just a tiny typo, the 264 roller cam was used in the GEN 2 iron headed LT1 350 and GEN 2 iron headed L99 4.3/265 V8.
The GEN 1 TPI L98 didn't run this cam.

And also a great point about the B bodies running the roller cams. The B(Caprice), F(Camaro/Firebird) and Y(Corvette) bodies all ran the roller camshafts(in the injected engines), the 87 square body and the 99-99 GMT-400 style trucks ran flat tappets until MY1996 when the truck switched to roller cams.

Most rear drive cars got the 4l60e in 1994, the fullsize trucks in 1993.

I also think the HT383/305-350 marine engines/Ramjet 350 roller cam with specs of 0.431"/0.451: with duration @ 0.050: lift f 196/206 on a 109 LSA would also run pretty good on the TBI Speed Density setup. P/n 14097395

peace
Hog
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Old 11-06-2017, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Hogg View Post
I also think the HT383/305-350 marine engines/Ramjet 350 roller cam with specs of 0.431"/0.451: with duration @ 0.050: lift f 196/206 on a 109 LSA would also run pretty good on the TBI Speed Density setup. P/n 14097395
@Hog - would the low LSA of 109 cause issues for the TBI? I've heard that a low LSA causes vacuum issues and would cause the computer to zonk-out.

Summit sells a "Chevrolet Performance Hydraulic Roller Camshafts 14097395" which matches that PN that seems relatively cheap on it's own, but I'm worried about the above vacuum potential for issue.

Also, I know that tappet cams need to have all the internals swapped out with a new cam - is this the case with rollers as well, or can I re-use the lifters that are in with the stock cam?
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Old 11-06-2017, 02:56 PM
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@Hog - would the low LSA of 109 cause issues for the TBI? I've heard that a low LSA causes vacuum issues and would cause the computer to zonk-out.

Summit sells a "Chevrolet Performance Hydraulic Roller Camshafts 14097395" which matches that PN that seems relatively cheap on it's own, but I'm worried about the above vacuum potential for issue.

Also, I know that tappet cams need to have all the internals swapped out with a new cam - is this the case with rollers as well, or can I re-use the lifters that are in with the stock cam?
I've not tried the RAMJET cam with the cop computer but given the cop cam is also at 109 LSA it might work, to crowd the odds on my side I'd start that with 1.5 rockers to keep from driving the overlap too crazy as this is a big affector of idle vacuum which is something the TBI loves to have high.

You also need to watch the roller cam terminology it needs to say things like factory, OE, OM, or OEM not an absence of a descripter word or use the word "retro". The difference is the factory cam has a step for thrust plate clearance and uses a unique cam gear for its smaller bolt circle and a different depth of the gears thrust face to accommodate the thickness of the thrust plate. No indication as to which or the word "retro" indicates an earlier roller conversion cam that uses a cam button for thrust and the conventional cam gear that also fits flat tappet cams.

Generally roller lifters/tappets can be swapped without issue. I don't make a practice of it because if it is a comeback it is a lot of cost and work to fix making the cost of set of new lifters is cheap in comparison.

Bogie
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Old 11-29-2017, 02:26 PM
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I might be wrong, and possibly so, but I thought the PD Car should have come with the TPI not the TBI. At the time these cars were coming out I was working EMS and the only wrench turning I was doing was my own stuff. Most of my friends were EMS or PD, and my friend's State PD car was TPI yet still got about 25mpg. Our Ambulance had the corvette TPI in it and with a full load and patient in back we got clocked at 147 and it would have went faster.

Our Medic response car was a Grey 90 Caprice Base PD unit with out the light bar. The 94 Caprice we had was another race car, just not normal at all.


As far as the 305/350 TBI, a lot of people poo-poo this engine, yet I have a 91 full size van with air compressor / tools and tow a full size car on a 7K car trailer I can still get 20 - 25 MPG.


As far as the 416 or 601 305 HO heads, like the others have said the smaller chamber will help boost compression, but flow is limited. For low and mid range RPM its not a problem, but they are limited.


Old Cop cars make great build material and looks like you got a nice one. Too bad not closer, or could help with the rust repair.


In the mid nineties Saudi Arabia came and bought up most of the used inventory, because the Fords at the time could not handle the handle the desert heat like the Chevy could.


On thing about the TBI that I found out the hard way, is make sure you have a good quality Coil, Ignition Module and Inline fuel filter.

Last edited by Foperfoauto; 11-29-2017 at 02:42 PM. Reason: Grammer
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